A work in progress

Those who know me personally know that I had a unrealistic expectation that the Mister and I would close on our new house, get all the painting and fixing up completely done, and then move our belongings inside and start living in an already-magazine-perfect home.

Yes, yes, I know. You’re laughing. I get it.

That is not what happened, obviously. Maybe if we’d both taken two weeks off work and did nothing but work on the house, but certainly not with 8-5 jobs and two puppies to take care of.

In reality, we closed on the house on a Monday, and I took the day off to paint and clean. Lots of work got done that day. Then nothing else got done all week long. We gave up the dream and moved in that Saturday.

The house is a work in progress, but progress is being made. The hallway is completely painted and has been for a few weeks now. We’ve bought a few small pieces of furniture and the Mister hung new blinds in the living room and kitchen last week. There’s even a welcome mat by the back door. It’s a slow progress, but it’s progress.

The biggest hurdle of the past few weeks has been the color of the living room walls. The Mister loves the chocolate brown and cranberry red that are already there, and I don’t dislike them, but I wanted to make the house OURS instead of just living in someone else’s home… so I’m painting.

I have agonized over the color choices for WEEKS! I’ve brought home dozens of paint cards and painstakingly eliminated one by one. I’ve bought quarts of test colors and painted swatches on the walls and scrutinized them from every angle in every type of light. I finally came to a decision a little more than a week ago. After painting almost one whole wall with my test quart, I ran back to Walmart for a few more gallons. They were out of the base type they needed to mix my paint, and they weren’t sure that a substitution would still work just right. So I waited.

Last week went by. The wall was half done and driving me crazy. So yesterday, Sunday, I went back to Walmart. They STILL didn’t have the base type I needed (our rural Walmart only restocks thing about once a quarter), but I agreed to try a substitution in the hopes that it would match.

I got home and painted a test patch. It was close! I thought it was the same! But it wasn’t. I continued painting, hoping it would somehow, magically be the same color when it dried. Or that maybe if I just kept painting I would cease to care.

As it turns out, after much pacing and muttering and frustration… I actually like the mistake color better than the color I chose. I hate to admit that, because I spent so much time choosing that color, but the mistake is slightly deeper and, believe it or not, is EXACTLY the color I had in my mind but couldn’t find on paper.

I bought two more quarts of the exact same “mistake” formula and redid the wall.

So it’s a work in progress. The living room looks TERRIBLE right now, with one wall needing a last coat, one wall with only the edges done and one wall with a big swatch right in the middle where I needed to use up the rest of the paint I’d already poured out. It’s horrendous. But when it’s done, it will be beautiful, and it will be exactly what I wanted.

So here’s to making a house a home, and here’s to a husband who lets me pick whatever colors I want without (too much) complaining. 🙂

Happy Monday,

The Missus

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The Next Great Adventure

So, we moved this weekend.

That’s right. We moved. We weren’t planning on it really, we were just going to get a few boxes out of the way, but a friend with a truck came over and one thing led to another and bippity-boppity-boo I suddenly looked around and thought “Oh no! What have we done?”

So now I have two places that are a wreck – the house is full of boxes and random stacks of cleaning/painting supplies, and the apartment has miscellaneous objects scattered around that either weren’t boxed up or have not yet been needed at the new house. I can’t get the apartment cleaned because I’m trying to sort out the new house, and I can’t get the new house sorted because I’m trying to go back over and clean the apartment. So it’s been an interesting few days.

I have to admit, there were a few moments in the moving process when I felt gripped by a sudden panic and an intense desire to put everything back where we had it. I liked our apartment, all in all. Everything was (mostly) organized and had a place, and I liked it that way. But, as the Mister has reassured me several times, it was time for us to move on.

We had our first great homeowners adventure immediately after our moving-helpers left, when I went into the guest bathroom and heard the distinct sound of running water, which seemed to be coming from the wall next to the shower (which, yes, was turned off). There was no visible dripping or puddling or signs of water damage, but nothing we did would stop the noise. So, after much banging on and listening to of the walls, I made an appointment with a plumber.

The plumbers came yesterday and, at first, thought replacing a few parts in the toilet tank would fix the problem. But the noise persisted. After an hour and a half and about 10 trips into the crawl space, the man finally diagnosed “house gremlins.” (Actually, it’s a long and complicated story, but essentially the toilet bowl is leaking directly into another pipe, so we hear the water dripping but it’s not actually leaking OUT anywhere and causing puddles or mold. So we’re just going to learn to ignore the noise and move on.)

So that’s done, but now my brand-new washing machine is making a terrible noise and I’m probably going to have to call Lowes and have them come out and look at it.

*sigh* Why did we do this again?

But really, hiccups and panic attacks aside, I really do enjoy being in the new house. Our bedroom is bigger, our closet is bigger, and we don’t have the neighbor’s unruly children running up and down the stairs right outside our front door (although there is a very suspicious poodle close by). The dogs are starting to settle in, I think, with Lucy adapting much faster than Meera, who is still sort of on a food strike.

Maybe someday we’ll have more than just the few badly-painted walls that I started the day of our closing.

Happy Tuesday,

The Missus (of a new castle)

 

The dangers of unmapped chocolates

I’m not a big Valentine’s Day person. In fact, I’m really not a big gift/special day person at all. It’s just not the “love language” I speak.

But, occasionally, I will find one of those iconic heart-shaped boxes on my desk or kitchen table, and I always regard it with intense suspicion. I’ve noticed an unfortunate trend on the part of chocolate makers to fail to include one of those little “maps” that identify each piece by shape and size and reveal its contents.

Without the map, you’re wandering blind in a minefield of strange nuts and coconut bombs that might go off at any moment! One false taste and BOOM!! there you go, gagging all the way to the water fountain and hoping your taste buds will have mercy on your brain and die quickly.

I always feel like Dumbledore from the Harry Potter series: quietly scrutinizing my box of assorted treats, trying to use logic to determine which ones might have horrors within. Then, almost sure I’ve chosen “a nice toffy,” I bite into an unassuming chocolate to find – UGH!! almonds!

I’ve learned by now the flat ones are just chocolate with nothing inside. Pieces with bumps on top likely contain nuts – but not always. Oval-shaped puffy pieces could contain chocolate mousse or fruit cremes… but they could also contain coconut… which is even worse than nuts. It’s like starting Jenga and waiting for the last pieces to fall.

Some people enjoy this uncertainty; I find it stressful and unhappy. If I wanted to play Russian roulette with my taste buds I would buy jelly doughnuts and not check the color first.

What eventually happens is that I break open every piece to find the ones I want and then try to pass the busted ones to the Mister or anyone else who might want them, which I understand isn’t incredibly appetizing.

So this is an open plea to chocolate-makers everywhere: PLEASE! For the love of fruit cremes, include a diagram in every box! Not just the fancy ones for rich ladies, but the little samplers for us common folk too.

Maybe then I could open an unassuming box of chocolates without feeling like I’m playing “Operation” and waiting for the buzzer to go off.

**Am I the only one who does this?**

 

How my fur-baby is teaching me to be a parent.

I’ve never gotten a Mother’s Day card. I’ve never had labor pains or contractions. I’ve never sat outside my baby’s door while he cried and prayed for him to soothe himself to sleep.

But I have comforted a scared baby in the middle of the night while the thunder rolls. I have rolled groggily out of bed in the wee hours to take care of bathroom needs. I have inspected poop and discussed bathroom habits at length. I have had a tiny head (or a heavy head, in recent weeks) fall asleep on my chest; I have also woken up with small feet in my ribs. I have taken my baby to sitters’ houses and to the doctor’s office and driven away while she cried and didn’t understand why I was leaving.

She didn’t come from my own body and I didn’t carry her for nine months, but she is no less my baby than someone else’s two-legged human child. And she has and is teaching me many things about how to be a good parent to those human children if and when they hopefully come along.

She has phases just like human children – she throws tantrums, she listens well sometimes and not at others, she is smart one day and sort of dumb the next. I have phases too; phases where I love her so much one moment and want to lock her in a box the next. I feel like that’s probably normal.

The phase we are in now is wanting to sleep on the bed at night, and I am learning a lot from the successes and failures of this phase.

She is allowed on the bed during the day, but has learned that she must (A) be invited, and (B) stay on the blue part of the comforter. These two things have been successful, although I don’t know how they stuck so well, but we at least have that.

In St. Kitts, she slept in the floor but would spend the last hour (between potty time and real waking up time) sleeping on the foot of the bed. When we came back to America, we decided there would be no dogs sleeping on the bed at all. This worked for a while and we didn’t have any problems. Then came the winter, when it was cold and I wanted to avoid taking her out to potty as long as possible. I found Meera would sleep longer and more soundly if we let her sleep at the foot of the bed; so we did. This also served the double purpose of keeping our feet extra toasty. When the summer started, she made us too hot and had to resume sleeping in the floor.

Well, she didn’t like that so much.

At first, she would give us the horrible pleading puppy eyes at bedtime and we wouldn’t have the heart to make her move. She got her way for a while. Then, she would start out in the floor but later disregard the “must be invited” rule and sneak onto the bed in the middle of the night when we either wouldn’t notice or would be too exhausted to bother trying to correct her. She won again. Now, most recently, she starts out in the floor and tries to sneak onto the bed. I make her get down and tell her to be quiet. She settles back into the floor for about 10 minutes before taking up a post near my head and groaning softly until I acknowledge her presence.

“Hush, Meera! Lie down!”

She resumes her silent staring. A few minutes later, the groaning starts again. “NO, Meera!” Silence. Then she’ll go around to the foot of the bed and try to make another sneak attempt where she doesn’t have to climb over me and might get away with it. The Mister wakes up irritated at this point.

“Meera! Get down! Shut up!”

This cycle repeats itself throughout the night.

On the one hand, I’m always tempted to just pat the mattress and let her win. It’s faster, easier, and I can go back to sleep without further incident. That little head curled up on my legs is so comforting. But there is always the inevitable moment hours later when I try to move my legs and can’t – there’s a very large, very solid object in the way. Said object is more than half my body weight and very, very warm. Said object is also, probably, snoring. You see, she observes the “stay only on the blue part” rule very well, and at night, when the comforter is pulled up around the Mister and I, the entire bed is the blue part… and she wants it all.

Down she goes into the floor again and the routine resumes. I don’t feel like we’re getting much sleep.

On the other hand, I can stay strong, be firm and say no. It won’t kill her to sleep in the floor or in the armchair in the living room. This, while painful for me now, is ultimately for her own good. Parents have to be the bad guys sometimes. If I let her win, she will run my life. I am her mother, not her friend. Be a parent, not a peer. Stay strong!

The voices in my head repeat these and other such cliches throughout the cycle.

In the morning, she’s always by my feet. I don’t know how this happens. We’ll try again tomorrow.

So, in summary, parenting lessons learned:

  • Don’t let the babies start doing things you don’t want them to do forever, because it’s harder to change the habit than to prevent the habit.
  • When you say no, mean it. They know when you are weak. Be strong!!
  • Just because she doesn’t like it doesn’t mean it’s hurting her.
  • Punishments must be consistent and predictable. She has to know that when she gets on the bed or knocks over the trash or doesn’t come when she’s called she will get a predictable, unpleasant result every. single. time. Not just sometimes, because she’s willing to play the odds. (See #2.)
  • I am a total pushover.

I think everyone thinking of someday having human children should have to train a dog first.

What do you think?

Freedom and the Open Road

I drove myself to work today!

Why is that such a big deal, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you. Since we came back from the island we’ve had one car between us – which isn’t the end of the world, of course, but it does require some interesting scheduling when both of us have work/school at different times of the day and night. I’ve been fortunate enough to have a wonderful coworker who lives out our way and has been willing to take me home on the nights that I would otherwise have been waiting in the office long after the building had closed. But we couldn’t just do that forever.

We are incredibly blessed to have good families who help us through rough times, and I inherited (on loan) a car this past weekend from my great-grandmother who has given up driving. It’s older than I am, but hey! It has wheels and an engine and it gets the mister where he needs to go without us having to go everywhere together! (And any married person knows you can’t do EVERYTHING together…)

I can go to the post office on my lunch break. I can go to Wal-Mart after work. I can go to Wal-Mart after work by myself! (I prefer to do my shopping alone.) Martin’s not a very big place, but I can go wherever I want to and I’m LOVING it!

And, in other news, every single article on the UT Martin homepage was written by me, so that makes me feel important for the day. #UTMAdvantage

That is all. Happy Thursday. 🙂

/the missus

Where in the world is…. anything?

Ok. So I have realized something very important since we’ve been home. I don’t know where any of our stuff is!!

When we moved out of our apartment in Martin, we brought an entire U-Haul truck back to Spring Hill and unloaded it into my in-laws’ utility room and outdoor shed. I know those things, logically, are all still there, yet I look at the piles and somehow I don’t see a whole U-Haul’s worth of stuff. (Although I’m sure my in-laws would disagree with that statement, haha.)

For example, the Mister and I have a small amount of winter clothing stored in easily-accessible places because we knew we would be coming back for Christmas breaks and would need warm clothes. However, I know there are things that I own – fuzzy pajama pants, warm tights, a large collection of sweaters – that are nowhere to be found. I remember packing them into a box, but that box seems to have vanished completely. Well, that or it’s buried behind the mountain of other boxes currently living on top of our dining room table in their utility room…. which means I’m in for a major excavation expedition before winter officially arrives.

I also know there are boxes out in the shed full of our things, but I can only think of two boxes that we actually put out there. The others are complete mysteries to me. I know we didn’t put clothing or books or other perishable things out in the shed, but I can’t think of what else we would have owned at the time that could have been moved out there. Moving into our own place will be like Easter and Christmas and a hundred birthdays all at once.

Which brings me to something else I’ve learned in the past week: things disappear when you unpack them. The Mister and I struggled and screamed and cried to fit our lives into five checked bags and four carry-ons to limp back home to the States, but then once I started unpacking and fitting things into drawers and closets….. it’s all gone. Somehow. Somewhere. You would have thought this house was filled to capacity with everything my in-laws’ own as well as most of what we own already in it, but somehow we managed to squirrel away another house’s worth of belongings. It’s like Hermione’s magic bag in Harry Potter 7, and if we squeezed this house like a lemon it would probably squish stuff out of every vent and window for weeks. When the Mister and I finally move all our stuff into our own place and have everything we own all in one house again, this property will probably weigh half of what it does now. I’m just hoping the house doesn’t start sinking into the earth under all this extra weight.

We are incredibly grateful for a place to stay and store our things and a yard for Meera to run in. I don’t have the faintest idea what we would have done without such accommodating family. I just have to figure out where everything is before we freeze to death. Haha! Island tank tops and shorts are definitely not cohesive to the dropping October temperatures (or to my mother-in-law’s house, which is always cold).

In other news, I’m told there are only 11 weeks until Christmas, which means holiday music (not played on steel drums) will arrive soon and I’ve definitely got to get a jump on Christmas presents or I’m never going to make it!

Happy Monday to all.

/the missus

Hop on the Magic School Bus!

So it’s obviously true that if you miss one day in a set routine then  you’re likely to miss more days. I didn’t get a post up last Thursday because of all the excitement surrounding opening night of the new Hunger Games movie (which was awesome, by the way. Highly recommended). And then I don’t know what happened on Monday but I obviously had some sort of brain malfunction because here we are, on Wednesday, just getting the week’s long post.

[And I’m having a lot of trouble with my D key this morning, so if a word doesn’t seem right, add a D and that will probably fix the problem.]

The Mister, our roommates and I had a conversation over dinner Monday night that got me to thinking. We were talking about all the cartoons and kids’ shows we used to watch – The Magic School Bus (MSB), Arthur, School House Rock, Tom and Jerry, The Jetsons – and comparing them to kids’ cartoons today. What happened, America? Kids shows today seem to feature giggling stupid girls, boys who destroy things, animals that speak garbaldygook and dance around like they’re on LSD… the list goes on. I think I learned more from watching MSB than I did in all three years of middle school science class. In fact, I distinctly remember sitting in a science test – 7th grade, I think – and reviewing a MSB episode in my head to figure out a question about space.

The Mister and I have already decided that, when we have children, instead of buying them the entire Sesame Street collection or the Baby Einstein DVDs, we’re just going to buy them all the MSB episodes. They will also know all the words to the School House Rock videos. The only way I understand how proposed bills (are supposed to) become laws in Congress is from those movies. “Oh I’m just a bill, yes I’m only a bill, so I’m sittin’ here on Capitol Hill. Maybe some day I’ll be a law, yes I hope and pray that I will, but today I am still just a bill.” (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then watch this video.) I also learned about grammar and history from those movies. I think my parents have the whole set lying around somewhere, and you’d better believe that our kids are gonna have the whole series memorized. (And they’re also going to play outside. I did, and I’m fine.)

Our kids, however, are not going to ride the actual school bus, as long as I can help it. That trip was a nightmare two times a day, and I am forever thankful that the bus stop was finally too far from our house in Murfreesboro that my wonderful mother drove my brother and me every day until I could drive us myself. My freshman year of high school I had to share my assigned bus seat with two enormous girls from down the street who really each needed a seat to themselves, and I (being rather small) was squished into a four-inch space between the bus window and my seatmate every morning. Then every afternoon I sat on my backpack in the aisle on the way home. I was always the last one on the bus in the afternoons because I had to get from my last class to my locker on the other side of the high school, make sure I had everything I needed for homework, and then run to catch the bus outside in the five minutes they gave us before they all pulled away. (More than once I missed it. Good thing I had a stay-at-home Mom or I would have spent a lot more time on that bench out by the front flagpole.) Somehow the physics would work out that the two big girls could fit if I was there first, but if they were there first there was no room left for me, and you weren’t allowed to sit anywhere but in your assigned seat. The American school bus system today is terrible. Just because you can theoretically fit three kids to a seat does not mean it’s actually physically possible. Have you looked at the size of some school-aged children today? Seriously.

Anyway, that was way off topic. Kids’ cartoons. Yes. That’s what I was talking about.

Summary: buy your kids School House Rock and The Magic School Bus (just making sure they know that Pluto is no longer a planet, even though Mrs. Frizzell says it is), and they’ll be alright in this world.

What cartoons did you watch growing up? Do you still remember something you learned from one of them?